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Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Save me, Channel 15!
I know the following is my own fault, brought about because I want to go to bed by 10:30 p.m.
But, s there a worse telecast in the world than the 10 p.m. "Indiana's NewsCenter"? I certainly hope not.
First, let me go on record as saying I've been a Channel 15 news-watcher for some time, making rare exceptions, such as wanting to catch local news before bedtime.
When we had a real Channel 33, the early news was watchable--they were the first to offer news in "prime time," on cable channel 14, and the early news show pretty much mirrored what you'd see later, with the exception of local sports, I think.
But since the debacle of the channel 21/33 merger, which resulted in the stupidest hodge-podge of news ever (to say nothing of putting many good people out of jobs), the quality and sensibility of the entire news operation has gone south fast.
(Aside: how in the world long can WPTA refer to itself as "21 Alive"? I believe it's had that tagline for 25 years. Okay! You're alive! We get it! Move on!)

The early newscast on HD 33.2 is just ... weird, and bad. The team of Linda Jackson and Curtis Smith defines the word "dorky." Their banter is absolutely painful to watch and listen to.
And the quality of this "news" is the fluffiest, least-useful bunch of stuff ever on TV.
There's maybe five minutes of local news of use, and the weather (Curtis does do a good job of that). (The good part here, I know: I can go to bed even earlier.)

Except, it's like watching a train wreck. Sometimes, you can't look away. You just have to see what silliness is going to be thrown at you next.

And this telecast doesn't disappoint in that regard.

What segment is dumber? The "25 years ago in our partner the Journal Gazette" segment? Linda: Tell me what the JG is reporting on TODAY, if they're your "partner in news." I'm just not interested in yesterday's news at 10:20 p.m. in 2007. Linda actually holds up A PRINTED COPY OF AN OLD JG FRONT PAGE. In 2007, she is holding up a piece of paper, as if this is a great thing for us to see! OUCH! While standing in front of half a dozen flat-screen monitors. Does no one else appreciate the irony there?

Or, and the lamest thing ever, where they try to turn a negative into a positive: Two sides of the same story from ABC and NBC! Does anyone not notice that these stories are MORE SIMILAR than they are different? It's rare for them to differ in any meaningful way! Show me the BBC side of the story--now, that would be interesting!

And sports "commentary" instead of sports scores. Who are they kidding! Why NOT have a sports segment--what do they think they are keeping back? Are the local H.S. scores such a ratings draw that they can't divulge them without cutting into their 11 p.m. newscast? I mean, I suffering through the 10:00 for a reason...I want to go to bed! I'm not going to watch 11 anyway! Why not scroll national/state scores, anyway -- As if we don't have online access, ESPN, etc. to tell us? It's as if no games have been played. They don't even use it as promo: you know, "For the latest local sports scores and more, tune in at 11"?

And the last five minutes or so devoted to "news of the weird"--seems weirdly appropriate, in this regard. And, totally useless.

But telecast content aside (and believe me, I think channels 21/33 should be very embarrassed by this attempt at "journalism) here's the absolute worst thing about it: low technical production values.

From the time they first launched it, and continuing to last night, we have been entertained (and this may be why we continue to watch) by the stunningly inept nature of the broadcast. They keep losing the sound of the show! Over and over again! It usually happens after a commercial break--as if someone forgets to press a button. When returning to the news, there's Linda J., there's the set, there's the graphics, there's ... absolute silence. And they never seem to discover the loss and press the button (or whatever) to fix it during the segment. When they first launched, we would see telecasts where the sound would go off after the first segment, and NEVER come back on (except for the commercials, for some reason) for the entire show.

Last night was a blast from the silent past. (And yes, I realize the silence is usually an improvement.) After a segment, then to commercials, then back to the show ... in silence. Does Linda not know she's talking to the hand? Does ANYONE in that studio not notice we can't hear it? They never acknowledge, it, they never apologize, they never fix it, either! (Last night, the sound did come back after the commercial break.)

And I can't wrap up without mentioning, at least one night, they lost the PICTURE for most of the show! We know because (NOT because we watched a blank screen for half an hour) we put picture in picture on just to see what would happen (see above: train wreck).

And, I also cannot leave without mentioning the promo. The song. The first time I heard it, all I could think was: 1) Is that John Mellencamp? How did they get him to do THIS?; 2) Is this ever going to end? and then: 3) Wow...is it long. Please make it stop.

Bottom line: PLEASE, channel 15, use your weather station for an early newscast! And PLEASE channels 21/33, use the marketing money for production and a true 10:00 p.m. newscast, not lame pop-music promos. Surely Ft. Wayne deserves better.

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